How to Guide Your Child through Trauma
At no point as a parent do you want to imagine that your child would ever have to process trauma. It can be an incredibly unforgiving point in your family’s timeline, as you will have to process the difficulties together, but it is important that you try and be there as the supportive role as a parent. While you may need to find a separate outlet to emotionally process your side of things, below are a few tips which outline how to help your child through the process of overcoming trauma.
Seek Professional Help
The first step to take as a parent is to seek professional help. The best way to do this is to visit your GP and ask for a referral to local therapy services. You may also wish to contact a specialised service, such as Ignite Teen Treatment, which has extensive experience in dealing with children and teenagers who are facing a difficult period in their life. They also cover areas such as the consequences that come with these difficulties like alcohol and drug addiction. By combining your personal support with tailored help, you can give your child the best possible fighting chance to overcome their trauma.
Be Clearly Available
While you may personally feel that it goes without saying that you are always there if your child needs support, it should not be taken for granted that your child knows this. It might be incredibly difficult for your young one to admit how they are feeling, or what they are trying to process. They may feel as if you couldn’t possibly understand what they’re going through: you need to make it absolutely clear that you will be there to hear their story regardless.
When your child asks you about their experience, it is important that you are as open and honest with them as possible. It is feasible to give them an accurate and realistic response to their questions without going into too much detail. Don’t force them to talk about issues they are not comfortable discussing, but ask questions that show you are open to understanding their experience. Whatever you do, don’t imply that a worst-case scenario might end up happening. The ‘worst might happen’ idea will then be replaying in their heads constantly, and to imply that these thoughts may be somehow justified could be incredibly detrimental to their mental health. Your best course of action is to:
• Acknowledge how they feel: demonstrate to them that you are listening clearly
• Reassure them that these feelings are normal and validate their reasons for feeling upset
• Remind them that they are safe and that you are always there
If you personally need some mental coping strategies during this time, it is important to find help and assistance outside of your parenting duties. Being able to process your own worries about your child will help you to be a more emotionally available parent, and to help you find an outlet to explain your worries.